Gift of Men
As I peer up from the shadows in which I´ve hidden, I notice how cloudy the night sky is. All but few stars are obscured by the dark clouds. One of those that are still shining brightly is the Mariners star. While looking up, I can hear the rustling of the leaves on the chilly wind and the footsteps of those brigands that are supposed to meet up here. My lips shape a faint smile for a moment. That no-good little snitch Finch was right. After a ˝talk˝ with Bill Ferney, I learned something interesting enough to make me come out here and take care of these ruffians. Better to do so than to let them cross Brandywine to harras the oblivious Shire-folk.
As they move trough the grass of Brandywood, drawing ever so closer to Ost Barandor, I remain still, shrouded by darkness. One of them comes closer to me, clearly not to happy about the prospect of scouting around as his ringleader ordered him to. He peers into darkness where I hide and does not see me. When he turns, his end is swift. Now there are only seven of them left. I hastily move under the shroud of darkness trough the shadows, dispatching two more with ease. Normally, I´d shy away from such odds, but here I have the advantage. Here...I am the worst thing they can face.
Others have not yet realized something is wrong. One of them edges too close to the cliff. What did he hope to find there I will never know, at least that is what crosses my mind as I take a brief look down on his broken body below. Too bad his companions heard when he landed. Now I can see two of them running in panic. I unsling my bow and take two arrows from the quiver. With a deep breath I release the first, hitting one of them, but the other gets out of my sight when I was about to release the second. Still, it matters not to me. I move ahead a bit, turning just in time to release my arrow on the one of remaining two. Man did not see me, but he recoiled in suprise when the arrow struck him. With a slight gasp, he dropped his sword down the steps. Then he lied down on his back, motionless. Only one remaining now is the ringleader. As I move slowly up the steps, I pull back my hood and remove the quiver and the bow from my back. When I reached to top, I notice that the stars where shining again. Drawing my sword Faelcrist I look at my last opponent. He stands before me without fear, I can see that in his eyes. He charged at me first, swinging wildly with his twohander. Deflecting his first few strikes was easy enough. When I counterattacked, he menaged to block and parry my first two strikes. After the third, which had grazed his shoulder, I dodged his clumsy thrust. Turning around, I litteraly disarm him. Still, there is no fear in his eyes as he turns to me so that I can finish this. One swift slice over his neck and he falls down, dead. Only then did I notice that the light of the stars had again been obscured by the coulds. As I look up, I feel raindrops fall on my face.
Pulling my hood over my face, I clean my sword with a rag, returning it to it´s scabbard afterwards. As I walk down the stairs, I notice that the man that´s there is still alive. Stopping for a moment, I kneel by him, ignoring the rain that is starting to fall. Kneeling beside him, I offer him the gift of Men. To my well hiddin suprise, he accepts it. ˝A brave man.˝ ; the thought crosses my mind as I thrust my dagger trough his heart, watching the light from his eyes fade. Oddly, I can´t help but to wonder would Randir approve of my act of ˝mercy˝. Still, that is a question to which I´ll probably never know the answer to, since I´ve no wish to brag about this.
After taking my bow and quiver, I start to make my way back to the outskirts of Bree. The wilderness will claim the dead I left soon enough.
One step at the time, I walk back.